May 27, 2014

In the mood for Black and White

Yesterday was a Bank holiday and instead of us going out and enjoying the fresh air (regardless of UK's crappy weather right now), we stayed in. It was a day of me playing with my new flash, playing with camera settings and my hubby studying for an HTML5 with CSS3 and JavaScript exam. We are such exciting people, I know...

So it was pretty chilled and I was in the mood for some in-camera black and white. Always fun.
The last photo was taken with new said flash, in a dark kitchen during late afternoon.

May 26, 2014

Rome Part 4

The last of my Rome posts... and a mish mash of photos.
As I said before 3 days was not enough. I could have spent at least another day there, wandering around admiring the old architecture and fitting in another visit to Giolitti or Tazza D'Oro of course.

I must say it was fun watching my husband try coffee the Italian way, which if you don't know is espresso for breakfast. Coffee shops rarely have seating, it's just a bar where you order your espresso and rinse with water all at the bar. Hubby did well I think, in fact he loved it. I'm not much of an espresso drinker. I stuck with cappuccinos. Cappuccinos are more traditionally drunk after lunch time. As you can imagine, they're not big on mugs. All their mugs/cups are tiny because, they do not drink coffee the way we do :) Franchise coffee doesn't exist... umm no guesses as to why they never took off right? Almost every cup of coffee we've had there, was amazing and we don't take coffee lightly. We almost wanted to buy bags of coffee to be honest. Not sure why we didn't.

As for ice-cream or in Italian, gelato... probably the best ice-cream I have ever tasted in my life and that is not an exaggeration. 

May 25, 2014

Rome Part 3: Il Margutta RistorArte

If ever you're looking for a really good vegetarian restaurant while in Rome, I would highly recommend Il Margutta RistorArte. Never have I seen a vegetarian restaurant as full as that, or popular. If memory serves me correctly, we waited approximately 20 to 25 minutes for a seat. We even had time to befriend an English tourist in the queue, who had a rather enviable travel itinerary and also lived in Spain. She left her friends behind, because they weren't vegetarian and she had heard how amazing this restaurant was. So, this place is talked about for sure it seems. For chit chat, we learnt so much about each other within 20 minutes. 

Waiters were running back and forth constantly and trying to accommodate everyone in the queue, but they were quite well composed, considering. It is on the pricier side, but they do have buffet options, which is more worth it in my opinion and the option we settled for. Unless of course you want the fine dining experience, then their menu is nothing short of options.

There is more than ample seating and some outside, but make sure not to go during peak meal times, as there will no doubt be a long queue.  But if you find yourself in a queue, well, you might make a friend.

May 22, 2014

Rome Part 2: Baths of Caraculla

The Baths of Caraculla was definitely one of my favourite ruins to see, alongside the Colosseum. 

As I said before, everything in Rome seemed to be built on a large scale. These baths, or rather it was more of a leisure centre, was absolutely huge. I could almost imagine how majestic and white it must have looked back in the past and how lavishly it must have been decorated. It had swimming areas, a gym and saunas, amongst other things. I couldn't even imagine what it must have been like to bathe in such a grand place. Not to mention, it was most likely decorated with sculptures and fancy ornaments everywhere. Oh, how times have changed...

Apparently Emporer Caraculla had these built to bring unity among the Romans, but also as was most common of Emporers at the time, to have the Romans favour him. 

These ruins were actually further destroyed by an earthquake in 2009. Have a read here, for more information.

I would say this is a must-see for those of you planning to visit Rome. 

May 20, 2014

Rome Part 1

A week later after France and we were off to Rome for three days. First off, someone should have told us that three days is not enough for Rome. There was so much to see and I'm guessing four days would be just about the minimum to see everything fully and comfortably. I wouldn't have minded an extra day... mostly we were rushing around, tiring ourselves out in the heat, in hopes of seeing as much as we could for the time we had.

Secondly, I don't really know what to say about Rome. The city literally astounded me at some point. Weirdly it was nothing I expected it to be, but also it was everything I ever heard it to be and more. I can't describe my stay in any other way. 

Let me explain: I expected a European city, a densely populated city, a city with really old ruins, amazing architecture, art, culture and I expected to enjoy exploring it and trying the "amazing" coffee and ice-cream that everyone talks about. What I experienced was the overwhelming realisation that I was standing in one of the oldest cities in the world, which I completely forgot about in the midst of my excitement and it hit me rather suddenly while at the Colosseum.. standing in the very place where slaves had died/fought their way to freedom as gladiators at the hand of emporers. Seeing ruins that are still standing from lifetimes ago, as if we're all just observing life as it used to be, seemed unreal, but also eery. So much Rome history that I've read of before, never seemed real until I was there. 

The ruins were humongous, even bigger than I ever thought they would be. In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was smaller than I thought. in London, the Big Ben? Actually Small Ben ... but Rome on the other hand, awe-inspiring huge. A display of the wealth that Rome once had.

I have no words, except you have to see it for yourself.

May 6, 2014

Côte d'Azur Part 2 and my thoughts on travelling

Apart from sharing some more photos of France, I thought I would share my two cents on travelling and seeing the world.

I've noticed, having spoken to others who have travelled or continue to travel, that I've noticed common themes among what people take from the places they have visited. More often than not, people would mention how they would or would not live there, based on various reasons. They would mention how they just didn't like the culture of the people, or how they loved the people, whether these people were friendly or not. Weather is a common theme of course. No-one likes bad weather.

All of these things are natural and quite common observations, including food and transport. All of these things are also, quite relative, aren't they? Relative to who you are as a person and relative to what you are used to, your expectations or where you lived for most of your life. And, a lot of times, people base how much they've enjoyed their trip, on these factors. This can give quite a skewed impression on a city or place, especially if you were only there for a very short period of time. But for some reason, people often feel the need for enjoyment of a place and look for certain things which might not ever have been there.

I say all this because, if I wanted to purely enjoy myself, I would pick the appropriate place and it would be a vacation, so to say. If I wanted to choose a new country to live, I would research beforehand. On the other hand, travelling and seeing the world means something entirely different to me. It literally means, seeing the world. The good and the bad. Seeing it and experiencing it all. Whether that be, amazing weather or bad, friendly people or not, charm or no charm, rich or poor, religious or non-religious... it's all fascinating to me. It's different, it's interesting and it tickles my brain. It's also about being grateful that I am able to travel right now and that is my mindset when I am abroad.

Next time you visit a new place, keep an open mind that everything might be completely different, not necessarily enjoyable and not everyone will be as friendly as you are used to. But... enjoy the experience of seeing a completely different world to your own. See the fascinating and find joy in the little things. You might not have that chance again.

So, enough of that. Here are some more Côte d'Azur photos for you and turquoise water eye-candy. I love that Nice airport runways are on the coast and you can watch as the planes land and take off...

May 2, 2014

Côte d'Azur Part 1

Such a perfect name, considering the colour of the ocean. The most perfect turquoise blue water I've ever seen in my life (forgive me if there is in fact better, for I haven't been many places). The French Riviera is absolutely stunning. I now understand why so many celebrities frequent this area. Beautiful coastlines, popular for yachting, resorts, hills, lovely weather and of course the French charm.

Feeling uninspired to write today and hoping my photos make up for it. I didn't shoot much, as I just wanted to soak it all in, but here are a few shots for now. We loved Eze Village, which is an old village on top of a hill in Eze and it has the most breathtaking views from there, and a cactus garden. We even found South African Aloe plants there, which was interesting. Also, seeing the Monaco Grand Prix stands being set up and the Prince of Monaco's palace, was really cool to see. Monaco, in itself, is just plain classy. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see Cannes or Marseilles, but maybe one day.. who knows.

I haven't got any pics of the famous oranges, but I can vouch that their freshly squeezed orange juice is probably the best orange juice I've ever tasted, ever.

For South Africans out there, does the first photo not remind you of Cape Town? ;)